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Our Story

TrueElk Retreats are all about connection.  Connecting to yourself, to the words on the page, to your surroundings and to other people. We believe in bringing intimate groups of people together in nature to reconnect with themselves and be restored through the power of creativity and environment.

Created in the summer of 2019 during a camping trip in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada, TrueElk retreats are rooted in the philosophy that our environment shapes our thoughts and that spending time in nature, helps to recalibrate our brains.  Cognitive neuroscientist David Strayer, developed the term, the ‘The Three Day Effect’ after conducting research on 28 backpackers before & after going on a trip into the wilderness. After three days in nature their thoughts were clearer, they were certainly more relaxed, & they reported being more creative.  

Our focus is to create & provide a space where you can unwind from the demands of the modern world and have an enriching experience amongst nature & other people.  

When organising a retreat we take a holistic approach considering the person ( or group ) in its environment, the organisational setting and also the cultural and societal setting. 

For more information on the story of True Elk and our vision for the future here is an article based on an interview between Sarah and Tees Law back in February 2022. 

About: About

"Sarah brings an elegant attention to details. Her planning and execution of True Elk events matches the grace with which she meets people in the moment. I've rarely met someone who has the genius of foresight to both vision and prepare for retreats, offering people a haven for their genuine selves to emerge."

Sonya Lea, Writer & Writing Mentor

About: Quote

Sarah Packford

Founder & Director

I curate

I craft

I design

I plan

I carve out spaces

I create environments 

I think of every detail so that you don’t have too

Inspired by the mountains & story

I've always been drawn to wild spaces and in December of 2016 I moved to Canada from London with little notion of what it meant to live in a small Canadian town in the middle of winter.  I soon acclimatised to minus thirty days, hat hair, wandering Elk and quickly fell in love with the Mountains.  

Having attended many writing workshops around the world including Greece, America and England I instantly felt a pull to bring others to the mountains to write. Since moving back to the UK in 2020, I now travel often to Scotland to get my nature fix. 


Growing up in a family hotel (Packfords Hotel) provided me with a lot of experience in organising & hosting events. TrueElk is the perfect combination of my passion for writing, my love of the Canadian Rocky mountains and my years of hospitality experience.  It has taken me back to my roots and is allowing me to do what I do best which is to create unforgettable experiences for people in a place that I've come to call home. 

Writing Workshop History

The Nuts & Bolts of The Novel with Audrey Niffenegger, London, UK, 2013

Yale Writer’s Conference, New Haven, US, 2013

Your Journey is Your Story led by Cheryl Strayed, Patmos, Greece, 2015

The Writer’s Camp, Esalen Retreat Centre, Big Sur, US, 2016

Writer’s Guild of Alberta Winter Retreat, Banff Centre, Alberta, Canada, 2018

Fall led by Lydia Yuknavitch, Corporeal Writing, Portland, US, 2018

Liminal Writing with Sonya Lea, Corporeal Writing Online, April 2020


BA Philosophy, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK

Masters in Creative Writing, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK

Public Relations & Communications Management Certificate, Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada 

Understanding Group Dynamics Certificate, The Gestalt Centre, London

For more information on what it is like to work with me, please see the testimonials page here. 

About: About
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